COMPOSERS: Richard Struass; César Franck
ALBUM TITLE: Strauss • Frank: Violin Sonatas
WORKS: Strauss: Violin Sonata; Stimmungsbilder No. 1; Frank: Violin Sonata; Méloncolie; Prélude, fugue and variations
PERFORMER: Augustin Dumay (violin), Louis Lortie (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ONYX4096
What does a new recording of the Franck Sonata bring to the table? In the case of this new disc from Augustin Dumay and Louis Lortie, the short answer is ‘plenty’. To start, there is the juxtaposition of Franck’s mature masterpiece and the gorgeous early Sonata by Strauss. Then there are the three judiciously chosen arrangements that add perspectives on both composers. Ultimately, though, the symbiotic partnership of Dumay and Lortie is the key.
Make no mistake, this is artistry of the highest order. In their hands, Strauss’s melodic fluency somehow manages to combine rich luxuriance with deftness of gesture. The outer movements of the Franck provide object lessons in pacing, everything flowing naturally. And there’s no pause for breath after the second movement’s furious conclusion, so that the piano declamations that start the ‘Recitativo-Fantasia’ appear to be merely another episode of its predecessor. Despite slightly distant recorded sound, Dumay’s tone is exceptional and Lortie’s outstanding pianism shines through.